Monthly Archives: October 2012

Families Sundered

A gay couple we know is splitting up to find work.  Carol (not her real name) will keep her job here, while her partner takes a job in Atlanta.  She has been out of work for a while.  They will still see each other on weekends.  This should be only a rough patch in a long-term relationship.  Jeremiah says  the job market will turn up after the election.  Still, it’s a hell of a thing for a young couple to go through.

See also: Same-Sex Unemployment

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Filed under Civil Rights, Economy

Free Bowles and Simpson!

Jeremiah is pretty impressed with the Simpson-Bowles report.  A thoroughly bipartisan effort, its recommendations were designed to satisfy both parties, in a spirit of compromise and higher purpose.

We come from different backgrounds and belong to different parties, but we share a common belief that America’s long-term fiscal gap is unsustainable and, if left unchecked, will see our children and grandchildren living in a poorer, weaker nation.

The list below is from the report.  It reads like a list of campaign promises, but it’s all possible.  If you haven’t yet read the report, that link is here.

  • Achieve nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction through 2020
  • Reduce the deficit to 2.3% of GDP by 2015
  • Sharply reduce tax rates
  • Cut backdoor spending in the tax code
  • Cap revenue at 21% of GDP
  • Ensure lasting Social Security solvency
  • Stabilize debt by 2014
  • Reduce debt to 60% of GDP by 2023

Our favorite section is 1-10, the one that includes freezing pay for Congress.  The sad part is that many paragraphs say, “do this in 2011 so that by 2013 …”

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Senate Elections

As a centrist, Jeremiah’s main concern is, “will the candidate be able to work across the aisle?”  The only way to end gridlock in Washington is to vote out the ideologues, and support free thinkers.  We have previously noted the loss, here, of moderates on both sides.  We also mourn the shrinking “blue dog” caucus.

Indiana – Once again, the right-wingers have shot themselves in the foot.  Is “Scozzafava” a verb yet?  Here, they have turfed out dear old Dick Lugar as “too moderate,” ensuring a victory for Democrat Joe Donnelly.

Maine – Angus King is running as an Independent.  That’s a no brainer.

Massachusetts – As we noted two years ago, Scott Brown is the very model of a socially moderate New England Republican.  His opponent is, well, not an Indian.

Missouri – No centrist here.  Notable only because the Republican candidate, Todd Akin, has unusual ideas about rape and reproductive biology.

Wisconsin – Here, we like the Republican, Tommy Thompson, because he was a pioneer in school choice.

See also: The Excluded Middle

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Filed under Center Field

Pan-Am FTA

If you have been following the campaign, you did not hear anything new in the last debate.  These set-piece events are about style, not substance.  There was one point, though, that caught us by surprise – Governor Romney’s call for more trade with South America!

According to the IMF, real per-capita GDP is higher throughout South America than in China.  Among many advantages, we found it interesting that Romney would cite “the language and the time zone.”  Compatible time – Sao Paolo is actually an hour ahead of New York – means no jet lag, and Miami is already a hub of South American commerce.

Jeremiah sees a lot of potential in this proposal, and a tacit admission that Spanish is an advantage for America.

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Powell Endorses Obama

General Colin Powell has endorsed President Obama for reelection in 2012.  The general also supported Obama in 2008.  Disgruntled conservatives are saying race was a factor. Actually, retired black Republican Secretaries of State are evenly divided between the two candidates.

Republicans should recall that General Powell, while he faithfully served two Republican presidents, has long been outside the main stream of his party.  Events have proved him right on Iraq, for instance, and he is also a moderate on social issues.  In a less polarized election, the general might have supported “Massachusetts moderate” Governor Romney.  Romney, if you look at his record instead of the primaries, is also on the left flank of his party.

Jeremiah stands on his policy of disregarding endorsements, although General Powell is certainly a cut above the usual run of celebrities.  Powell supported his endorsement with a number of reasons, but not including the economy.

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Victim Mentality

One year ago, the occupation of Wall Street was in full swing.  Jeremiah engaged the movement, constructively, on this and other blog sites.  His theme was “stop blaming” the banks, the Fed, immigrants, and the military industrial complex.  Jeremiah encouraged the movement to develop an agenda, leadership, and political influence – much as the Tea Party had done, the year before.

This is not only a political struggle.  For these young adults, it is also a spiritual struggle.  The power of positive thinking dates back, at least to the eponymous book by Norman Vincent Peale.  His message has been taken up, in various forms, by many disciples.  Some authors attribute this power to a supernatural force, whether Dr. Peale’s Christianity or Rhonda Byrne’s “law of attraction.”

Jeremiah subscribes to the practical, non-mystical, version of this theory.  In his own experience, he has seen many instances where attitude alone was the principal determinant of success.  There is a logical explanation, of course, but sometimes this “power” is so subtle that it’s easy to see why authors invoke the supernatural.  Jeremiah’s personal favorite is Jim Rohn.  He starts this video with a discussion of blame and personal responsibility.

This is why Jeremiah was so worried about the OWS kids initiating a cycle of blame and helplessness, and why he encouraged them to start a movement – any movement – that would include adult responsibility.  Life’s setbacks are temporary, but there are always people ready to exploit a temporary weakness.  They will tell you that you can’t help yourself, that you are a victim, and – the moment you start to believe it – they will be right.

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Lack of Intelligence

Pictured left is Vice President Biden yucking it up over the murder of four Americans in Libya.  His defense is that Rep. Ryan’s accusation was just too funny – administration officials, led by Ambassador Susan Rice, purposely misled the American people as to what really happened in Benghazi.

Jeremiah watched Ms. Rice offer her interpretation live on CNN.  Deliberately or otherwise, she appeared to be confusing an Islamist protest in Cairo with events in Benghazi.  At the time, there was already strong evidence that the latter was a planned terrorist attack.

The Vice President might have allowed that some officials had been misinformed.  Instead, he stands on the assertion that the “spontaneous violence” story was the best intelligence available at the time.  This is troubling, because we rely on our intelligence agencies to tell us when, for instance, Iran has developed an atomic weapon.

In fact, it is likely that American intelligence has been degraded by leaks in the New York Times, the drone campaign, and events in Pakistan.  Even Wikileaks has played a role.  America, together with Israeli intelligence, had been waging a successful campaign to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program – including the use of a sophisticated computer virus.  The FBI is investigating how classified methods ended up in the New York Times.

We have also been waging a campaign to kill Taliban and other militants using UAV drone strikes.  Ironically, the Vice President has been a supporter of this program, which is not an aid to intelligence gathering.  Intelligence is produced by capturing the enemy, with their data, and interrogating them.  Drone strikes are effective in the short term, but they “consume” intelligence.

America also needs to cultivate a network of Afghan and Pakistani informants.  This effort was dealt a blow when Wikileaks printed the list, and the enemy simply rounded up our spies and killed them.  By the way, the Pakistani doctor who helped us find Osama bin Laden?  He is still in jail in Pakistan.

It takes a long time to develop intelligence sources.  If we do not replenish the supply, and stop the leaks, then America will be in for some real trouble.  When Vice President Biden lays blame on the “best intelligence available,” we should be very worried.  That’s no laughing matter.

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Filed under Defense